By Roland Lovstad
A revised 2008-09 budget, purchase of management software, and approval for a library addition at the Fort Wayne seminary were among actions by the LCMS Board of Directors at its meeting Aug. 21-22 in St. Louis.
The budget for this fiscal year was increased to $84,690,924 from $84,039,495 as adopted in May.
The balanced budget anticipates $48,746,954 in restricted and Board-designated income, $21,480,000 in undesignated revenue, and $14,463,970 from sales and services.
Additional expenses were in the transfer of fundraising staff from the LCMS Foundation to the Board for Human Care Ministries and annual expense for management software.
Explaining the revisions, Charles Rhodes, executive director of accounting, said the additional staff expense would be offset by lower billings for services from the Foundation. Revenue was boosted by a large bequest to KFUO, which will offset the radio station’s administrative expense. The budget also anticipates revenue of $1.2 million in development costs from the Fan Into Flame campaign, which were covered by the Synod last year.
As revised, the budget includes a $500,000 contingency. Rhodes noted that the revised budget restores $1.15 million to the Concordia University System for debt retirement. The earlier budget allowed only for interest payments during 2008-09.
A $4.5 million expenditure, the software includes the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) system. It replaces a Benefactor software that has been used since 1995 and will not be supported after 2010.
The software will track donors and planned gifts, as well as handle the Synod’s roster of church workers, congregation statistics, redesign and interaction of the LCMS Web site, volunteer management, missionary Web sites, and events management.
The purchase also includes a Blackbaud fund accounting system and Ultimate Ultipro human resources and payroll support.
Because it involves many components of the Synod’s work, the project has probably had more input than any project to date, according to Ron Schultz, chief administrative officer. “It had a significant amount of due diligence to make sure there is understanding and commitment,” he said.
The purchase will be paid over the next three years. Grants, plus funds from the LCMS Foundation and Concordia Plan Services, will be applied to the purchase. The increase in annual cost is estimated to be $211,000 more than the existing software’s annual cost.
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., received approval to begin a public fundraising phase for a 48,000-square-foot addition to its library. Projecting the cost at $8 million, the seminary has obtained $4.325 million in donor commitments and has a tentative loan commitment. The Board approved the proposal to obtain up to $5 million in financing to be repaid as pledges are completed. Also approved was a plan to execute a construction contract when commitments reach $6 million.
Citing previous experiences on the seminary’s Board of Regents, Board member Robert Kuhn said the adequacy of the library has been a concern of the national accrediting agency for some time. LCMS Treasurer Thomas Kuchta said his analysis shows the project is feasible in terms of debt coverage.
The directors elected Dr. Jeffrey Schrank, pastor of Christ Church Lutheran, Phoenix, to fill the clergy position on the Board after the resignation of Rev. Edward Balfour.
Jill Hasstedt, director of family ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Belleville, Ill., was selected to fill an opening on the Board for District and Congregational Services.
The directors also requested that the entities involved in the Wittenberg Project provide a business plan no later than Oct. 31.
The project involves establishing a Lutheran congregation in Wittenberg, Germany, and restoring a school building, originally built in 1564, to serve as a visitor-conference center. LCMS World Mission, LCMS World Relief and Human Care, and Concordia Publishing House are involved in the project with the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), an LCMS partner church in Germany.
In its resolution, the Board said it wanted to review the plans in light of its fiscal responsibility for the Synod. The Board will revisit the project at its November meeting.
Earlier in the meeting, the executives of the three sponsoring units reported on fundraising efforts and progress with the business plan. The project is complicated by a government regulation requiring excavation for artifacts, the declining value of the U.S. dollar, and smaller-than-anticipated grants. One cost-cutting consideration is to finish only the lower floor for a visitor center and meeting space. The original plan included remodeling of two upper floors for a caretaker apartment, a guest apartment, and sleeping rooms for visitors.
In other actions, the Board:
The Board also heard a Fan Into Flame report that gifts have reached $33.5 million toward the $100 million goal. Cash receipts are $16.1 million.
Roland Lovstad is a freelance writer and a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Perryville, Mo.
Posted Aug. 28, 2008